Gear Review: Patagonia Black Hole Daypack

Patagonia Black Hole
Patagonia Black Hole

Patagonia Black Hole
$149, 2 lbs. 4 oz.
35L/2,136 c.i.
One size

If I decide to become a big-city bike messenger when I grow up, this will be the pack I carry. But that’s just a statement about its indestructibility; however, it’s way more versatile than that. I used it for everything from a carry-on when flying and an around-town pack when biking errands, to hauling quickdraws and personal climbing gear for sport climbing at Idaho’s Castle Rocks State Park, and on a five-pitch route on Steinfeld’s Dome in the City of Rocks National Reserve. I could toss it onto rocks and the pack showed not a scratch.

Patagonia Black Hole2The 1,200-denier polyester fabric could take a bullet—it may be the toughest pack I’ve ever seen. The fabric is treated with Patagonia’s Deluge DWR (durable water repellent) finish; the zippers aren’t waterproof, but the lid overhangs the wide mouth of this top-loader, so the main compartment is effectively rainproof. With padded shoulder straps and a molded back panel, the pack carries 15 to 20 pounds comfortably. An internal sleeve fits most 17-inch laptops or a hydration bladder. The zippered front pocket fits an e-reader and other small, thin items; the lid pocket is a little smaller and has a moisture-shedding, reverse-coil zipper. One demerit: The thin, nylon-webbing waistbelt offers no padding or support.



See more reviews of daypacks and other hiking gear that I like.

NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.

—Michael Lanza


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4 thoughts on “Gear Review: Patagonia Black Hole Daypack”

  1. Yes, it does help.
    I went to a store today and tried the pack out. I don’t think it’s for me. I definitely like the concept, but I feel that it functions better as a commuter than as a techinical backpack.
    Despite my misgivings, I’m sure that it will become a staple for Patagonia. A few tweaks here and there might convince me to by an updated version in the future.

  2. A couple of questions for you. First, how much weight can the pack comfortably carry? You mentioned the waist belt was thin.
    Some reviews I’ve read on the Patagonia website mentioned problems with the top of the pack staying dry in heavy downpours. Would you rate the pack water resistant or water proof?

    • Good questions. To clarify what I wrote above, I find it carries at least 15 pounds comfortably enough, though not as comfortably as would a daypack that has a wider or padded hipbelt. That comes down somewhat to personal preference, too. I wrote above that the top lid overhangs the zipper, keeping rain out pretty effectively most of the time, though maybe not in a severe, wind-driven downpour. I think the pack is highly water-resistant and will keep contents dry in all but the hardest rainstorms. Does that help?